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Herb Alpert And The Big Huerta: The Eyes Have It

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“There was a little Spanish flea, a record star he thought he’d be, he’d heard of singers like Beetles and The Chipmunks he’d seen on tv, why not a little Spanish flea.” There you have it. I bet you peeps never knew the words to “Spanish Flea” Well, a little Spanish flea is probably better than a little Spanish fly and easier on manual transmission autos.

Herb Alpert is quite the man. He was born and raised right here in east L.A. He played in the USC marching band and wrote hits for Jan and Dean, The Hollywood Argyles and Sam Cooke amongst others. Now I will come clean and admit that I didn’t know too much about Herb before writing this article. What I did know is that he was totally hip when I was growing up. You could hear his grooving instrumentals on TV (The Dating Game) and all over the radio, and when I got in high school and discovered the joys of thrift store shopping for records, you would see tons of copies of one of the sexiest LP covers ever, “Whipped Cream and Other Delights”. That cover alone deserves to be in some sort of hall of fame. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass seemed to rule the airwaves in the 60’s. A few of the hits include “This Guy’s in Love with You”,  “A Taste of Honey”, “The Lonely Bull”, “Tijuana Taxi”, and the above mentioned “Spanish Flea” to name but a few. Now listen to “The Lonely Bull” and if that song don’t take you down to Mexico or Spain in your mind and heart than something is seriously wrong! Listen to how cool that is!  Very surf-y “Endless Summer-like….maybe it’s a west coast thang I don’t know…but Herb was and still remains theee cool sh*t to listen to! Don (Mr. Hollywood) Butler always brings the Herb cd out when we sit around the pool in Arizona for spring training basically signifying the end of cooler weather and the beginning of baseball season, the cool of the evening, if you will. Herb Alpert was also the “A” in A & M Records. A & M had some major acts including The Carpenters, We Five, The Captain and Tennille, Cat Stevens, Joe Cocker, Free, Gene Clark, Quincy Jones, Liza Minelli etc…an incredible roster of talent. This man certainly seems to have the Midas touch. What I didn’t know about Herb is that he is a very talented abstract expressionist painter and has done many public sculptures. One of his primary influences is the Mexican abstract painter Rufino Tamayo. Herb also has a series that he paints with organic coffee as his medium. This man is truly blessed. He was also a pretty handsome dude and he seems to retain his good looks even as he ages. We should all be so lucky!

This painting was done on black canvas and the portrait was done in oil. I am slowly learning to blend the oils into a tri-color sheen that give the skin a more living, colorful feel. I sorta went with a 60’s or 70’s style font that recalled the colors on “Whipped Cream and Other Delights”…but who was looking at the colors on that LP? Also, I had a few comments on why I didn’t give him eyes. Well, eyes are sometimes hard to capture and I thought it would lend credence that it made him use his ears more instead of his eyes for finding new talent for his record label…also it lent it’s name to the title of this painting, “There are No Eyes in A & M”, a takeoff on that stupid corporate saying of “there is no I in team”, which I truly never understood anyways, since I am so corporate..Well, hope you enjoyed this ARTicle, it was a pleasure to bring the Herb back to you all…Peace in your life..Ed h.

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